Let’s go back to election day, 2016. As soon as the results came in, reports of Russian interference came up. And as far as the Department of Justice is concerned, Moscow did it specifically to tilt the election to Trump. Zuckerberg initially called it a pretty crazy idea to think anyone could use FB to influence the election. He walked it back within the year.
But even though Facebook’s stock kept plowing through new record highs, Zuckerberg couldn’t shake the scrutiny over fake news this time.
To be clear, the fake news issue had popped up before. But the surprise Brexit vote and Trump’s shock victory piqued Western interest and gave this social media manipulation international attention. In trying to explain Trump the phenomenon, a lot of people started to ask what impact fake news had on the election.
But one ex-Facebooker argues Russia’s Facebook ads were actually much less important to Trump’s victory than the Trump campaign’s own Facebook ads. Trump himself, on the campaign trail and in office, has been a pretty avid practitioner of social media. That relationship has proven to be pivotal both for him — and for the platforms themselves.
Zuckerberg himself said there was more engagement with Trump’s Facebook posts than Clinton’s. And when it comes to ads, engagement is what Facebook rewards.